One year ago, MotoGP legend Nicky Hayden succumbed to injuries sustained in a cycling crash near Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. Then, as now, the shockwaves are felt – and the tributes and memories continue to pour in.
The “Kentucky Kid” who rose from American dirt track to the absolute pinnacle of his sport, Hayden was known for many things to many people, and put his name to an astounding number of achievements both within racing and beyond its limits.
One year on, there are many ways in which Hayden has been and will continue to be remembered. Misano has commissioned the Nicky Hayden Memorial Garden near the location of the accident, overseen by Hayden’s friend and former mechanic, Denis Pazzaglini. Circuit of The Americas has named Turn 18 ‘Hayden Hill’ — which Valentino Rossi used to pay tribute on Tuesday — and photographer Mirco Lazzarri has an exhibition at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola featuring 69 photos of the number 69.
In addition, his hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky, will be unveiling a sculpture of Hayden in early June. The statue recreates the American’s celebratory lap of Laguna Seca following his Championship-year victory there on July 23, 2006, and his likeness will hold aloft an actual American flag. The work will be unveiled on June 8 at 5:30 p.m. on the front lawn of the Owensboro Convention Center.
Mayor Tom Watson will then read a proclamation declaring the following day – June 9, or 6/9 – Nicky Hayden Day, an incredible way to remember – and celebrate – the life of one of MotoGP’s true greats, “the nicest man in Grand Prix racing.”